"Has the pandemic changed the office forever?" New Yorker magazine posed this question in early 2021, as employees and employers around the world were forced to adopt digital working models in light of Covid-19.
However, the future of the workplace has been a hot-button issue for a few years now — with people asking questions like: Is it really necessary for employees to work from the office every day? Is remote work becoming the "new" normal? Does the future belong to hybrid work?
Only time will tell how different companies and cultures will deal with this issue going forward. But if the future of work does indeed belong to hybrid teams, how can marketing teams, in particular, cope with the challenges it will bring about?
This question and more will be explored in this edition of our #WorkAdvice series. Let’s dig in.
Hybrid Work in Marketing Teams: More Than a Trend
In many companies, it’s now common practice for employees to work from home, provided their superiors approve. Whether it’s just a few days or the entire week, hybrid work provides many marketing professionals with the flexibility and choice they desire in their careers.
In fact, a recent survey revealed that 47% of employees would likely look for another job if their employer didn't offer a flexible work model.
With tight deadlines and a good deal of required back-and-forth with other departments, hybrid work can pose some challenges for marketing teams in particular. But what exactly is “hybrid work”, and what challenges are we referring to?
This is where we like to dive a little deeper.
What Is Hybrid Work, and How Does It Differ From Remote Work?
To keep it simple, hybrid work is a setup that does not require employees to work exclusively from their company’s office. Instead, employees can choose to work in another location — depending on their needs and preferences.
This is not only limited to a “home office” setup but also includes any form of so-called “remote working”. For example, working on the train en route to an appointment with an agency or setting up shop in a café. The point being: With remote working, you can adapt each working week suit to your individual needs.
However, there’s more than one hybrid work model to choose from. In fact, there are several subtypes — which illustrates just how flexible and adaptable hybrid work can be.
1. Remote First
At this point, we’d be surprised if you haven’t heard this term. With fully remote teams, employees work mainly from the comfort of their homes and there’s no obligation to be present in the office.
However, anyone who’s worked in Marketing knows that this can be difficult to implement in its entirety — so occasional days in the office are oft out of the question. Whether it be for an important strategy meeting or a company-wide debriefing.
2. Static Hybrid Work
Here, all team members decide individually whether they want to set up their workstation at home or in the office — and then stick to their choice.
Usually, some employees choose home office and others prefer to come to the office every day. However, eventually, everyone knows where to reach their colleagues. Whether that’s sending a Slack message to the SEO team members at home or popping over to the content team’s desk space in the office — which is great for interdisciplinary meetings and arrangements.
3. Dynamic Hybrid Work
Here, the name says it all: each team member decides for themselves which days and times they’ll work from the office and which they’ll work from home.
While it can result in a regular fluctuation of who’s in the office and who isn’t, you can easily align with teammates to make appointments for marketing meetings and the like.
4. Synchronous Hybrid Work
In short: Either the entire marketing team is present, or no one is. Here, a team’s marketing manager or supervisor sets a schedule — which requires everyone to meet in the office or work from home at the same time.
While this method requires a little more planning, it’s incredibly helpful for setting up meetings and brainstorming sessions.
5. Office First
The classic variant and, thus, the antithesis of remote-first. Here, the office remains the primary workplace for all employees. However, work from home is occasionally permitted based on individual needs.
The Pros & Cons of Hybrid Work Models
Every company must decide together which model is ultimately right for their teams and employees — but the advantages and disadvantages of modern working models are the same for most.
1. More flexibility
A recent study conducted by Slack found that flexibility is a key factor as to why many employees choose a hybrid work model. In a flexible working setup, it's easier to find a balance between one’s personal and professional lives.
For example, when brand managers are able to define their working hours, the result is more time to take care of the things that matter. Whether that’s running an errand, picking up their kids from daycare, or being home for a delivery.
And when people feel that their personal needs are respected, they’re more likely to enjoy their job.
2. Increased employee satisfaction
Those who can shape their lives more freely and flexibly are more satisfied — this applies both in their private and professional lives.
And satisfied employees are not only less likely to look for another job — according to many studies, they’re also more motivated and productive! Satisfaction can also have a positive impact on employee engagement, making for a more involved workforce.
3. More concentration & productivity
If you’re less distracted by colleagues, other calls, etc. — you’ll likely get more work done and be more efficient.
So whether you're working on a pitch presentation or preparing a market research study — you'll find the peace & quiet you need at home. This is a phenomenon that almost everyone can attest to.
4. Hire talent from around the world
In a hybrid work model, companies can hire talent from around the world. Having access to a larger talent pool means being able to hire people with specific skills that can enrich any marketing team.
This can provide companies with a competitive edge and help them tap into new markets — as well as ensure round-the-clock productivity.
5. Save on real estate costs and invest wisely
In a hybrid work environment, fewer people are on-site at the same time. For some companies, this can mean that they don't have to hold on to costly real estate investments.
This allows the company to reinvest the savings and provide new work opportunities for employees — such as satellite office spaces or smaller co-working spaces. They could even use the savings to fund various marketing tools.
6. Improved environmental protection
When employees work from home, the trip to the office is eliminated. And with it a significant proportion of emissions!
Because, regardless of whether employees come to work by car, bus, or train — if there’s no commute, there’s less of a burden on the environment!
But, where there are pros, there are always cons. And we don't want to pretend that there aren’t any potential downsides of the hybrid model.
So, let’s discuss a few.
1. Isolation at home
Limited communication with team members and other colleagues can often lead to professional difficulties for remote workers — plus, the lack of social contact with colleagues can also end up affecting peoples’ work.
Thus, isolation is not only a problem for employees but also for companies, as loneliness and a lack of social contact can have a negative impact on motivation and productivity.
2. More video conferences and technical challenges
In our day-to-day working life, we’re often faced with multiple meetings and necessary interactions with other colleagues. But only being able to see colleagues and customers virtually can prove tiring.
Additionally, many people deal with a lack of adequate hardware or problems with software at home — not to mention those pesky internet problems.
3. Work and private life can become entangled
In marketing, there’s a certain “always-on mentality” that’s quite common. But those who work in a home office setup are further burdened with the feeling that they must always be reachable.
Because even when work is over — many people who work remotely remain at their desks. This lack of spatial separation between one’s professional and private life not only leads to extra hours but can also quickly become overwhelming.
Of course, there are more pros and cons to be considered beyond the above-mentioned points. However, with this overview, you are now aware of the most important arguments for both options.
Still, it’s important to note that while the advantages refer to work itself, the disadvantages have more to do with factors surrounding work. And it is precisely these “disadvantages” that can not only be remedied but even turned into advantages.
Next, we'll provide a few tips on how to do just that.
3 Tips To Make Hybrid Work More Effective
1. Invest in professional (technical) equipment
Those who have to struggle with technical problems in hybrid work setups have often not been equipped with the right hardware. Although many people have been working outside the office for some time now, not every company has provided the required equipment.
The foundation for a successful hybrid work setup is technology. Employees need to be able to access their emails and documents from anywhere and communicate with colleagues simply and easily.
To achieve this, companies need to build a secure IT infrastructure that allows remote access and provides their employees with access to platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
Of course, one also needs high-quality technical equipment and an ergonomic home workspace. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer what is available for purchase in order to create the best setup possible. Some companies provide employees with a one-time or regular budget for properly equipping their home offices.
After all, when you can hear and see your colleagues properly, you’ll all possess a deeper understanding of your goals and boast higher rates of productivity.
Pro Tip: When choosing an audio and video solution, go for devices that have been optimized for major platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Google Meet.
This should ensure that your devices partner effortlessly with various video conferencing solutions.
2. Use the right tools to diversify video conferences
In hybrid marketing teams, video conferencing is part of one’s daily work routine. Such video meetings are meant to replace face-to-face meetings but are often seen as an inferior alternative.
However, when supported by the right technology and interactive tools, they can actually compete with "real" meetings. There’s a wide range of collaborative tools that can improve collaboration during meetings and throughout the workday.
For example, consider the app Miro. With this tool, you can easily collaborate with your marketing colleagues. From brainstorming sessions to creative workshops, your team can use the endless virtual whiteboard to organize ideas, create mind maps, and visualize strategies and processes. Such a setup lends itself to an open and playful atmosphere and brings variety and creativity to meetings.
Pro Tip: When creating the agenda of a video conference, it’s best to avoid long monologues and lectures by a single person. Instead, topics should be broken up and feedback from all participants — especially the remote participants — should be actively solicited. Otherwise, you might miss out on the insightful opinions of your more reserved colleagues.
3. Don't lose the team spirit in your digital environment
Without the chance to happen upon colleagues at the coffee machine or chat with your desk mates, it’s easy to lose your sense of team spirit.
To combat this issue, it’s a good idea to schedule regular, short check-ins — preferably via video. This way, you can set up a meeting for the entire marketing team for lunch or a coffee break and make an effort to discuss more than just work.
To enhance team closeness and cooperation, it’s important to build and maintain personal bonds with colleagues. And to do so, you have to find ways to communicate via more than just e-mail — such as "face-to-face" video chats. Don't hesitate to turn on your camera even for short conversations.
In order to optimize various projects and remain up to date, it’s also a good idea to use project management software and tools.
Whether you go with a tool like Monday.com or Trello, there are plenty of different suitable options. And if you’re looking for some of the best marketing tools out there, we recommend checking out our recent article.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has created many challenges for companies around the world, it’s also proven that hybrid work setups are realistic, successful options for the future. However, many companies still haven’t made the changes necessary to support flexible working models.
As time goes on, companies that adopt a hybrid work model will gain a competitive advantage in the fight for talent. Over the next two to three years, we’ll see a great deal of movement in this area — with companies, managers, and employees learning from experience and continually improving processes.